INTER HALL OF FAME 2018 | Bergomi – Facchetti – Zanetti
He’ll be remembered by everyone as someone who summed up Inter. Upstanding, proper, honest men. The best defender we’ve had at the club. I don’t think anyone can match him. It was no coincidence that he was made captain. You only needed to watch him in training and see how he conducted himself to realise he set the standard. One of the best in the world. He was incredible one against one. He was a brave team-mate and a real hero. What a great captain he was. We’re talking about a really important figure in Inter history. It was all about the team. Every time. Only much later did he think about his reputation and his personal interests. Facchetti was an incredible player from that perspective. I remember his first few games and one in particular against Fiorentina. Fiorentina had a lightning-quick winger and Facchetti struggled against him at full-back, so we began to wonder. But then Herrera said to us, “This guy will make the national team and he’ll win more caps for Italy than anyone else.” He really backed him and he was spot on about Giacinto’s ability. He was an outstanding professional. He was incredibly determined and so focused. On top of that, he had exceptional physical attributes. Out of all his many goals, the one I’ll never forget was his strike in the 1965 European Cup semi-final. We had to come from behind having lost the first leg 3-1 to Liverpool. We were all but out of the competition because the away goals rule didn’t exist back then. In order to knock Liverpool out, we had to win 3-0. There was Peirò’s cheeky finish, Corso scored from a free-kick, then came Facchetti’s divine strike. It was a wonder goal which began with two passes between Suarez and Corso. Giacinto then ran onto Corso’s through ball and finished beautifully. That was the winner. I met him when I too was called up to the Italy squad. We became friends and whenever we played them, I no longer wanted to play on the right. I played right back and he played left back. Meroni and I agreed beforehand. I said, “I don’t want to come up against Facchetti, partly because I can’t get the ball off him and partly because we’re friends.” So I played on the left and Meroni went on the right. I remember his big, bushy eyebrows. All jokes aside, I spent a large part of my teenage years with Beppe. We met at our Inter trial in 1977. We had a whole series of trials and they signed two players, me and him. I remember turning round and seeing him. I thought he was the coach driver or one of the lads from the Under-19s because he already had facial hair. He was a stern figure. I spent a number of years with him both on and off the pitch. He was one of the best in the world. He was incredible one against one. Almost every player was massively important in our team. We needed a top keeper like Walter Zenga but “Zio” Bergomi was one of the best I ever played with. He was an idol and he was always one of the first out there both in training and matches. After Beppe Baresi, he really was a proper captain. You can tell a captain from how they behave during the week and in training. It’s not only about what they do in front of the crowd at San Siro or elsewhere. He was always the first in at training, set an example and helped out the youngsters, new signings and foreign players. He was very important in terms of all that. He was a great man from every perspective. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to talk about Zanetti. You can talk to me or other coaches and players. People with a place in Inter history. However, none of us compare to Zanetti. The only bit of stick we can give him is that his crossing wasn’t the best! When I think of Zanetti, I think of that run where he beat four, five or six players. Then at one stage, the Inter crowd came up with a great chant for him. I’m not great at singing but it went:
Then at one stage, the Inter crowd came up with a great chant for him. I’m not great at singing but it went: “Tra i nerazzurri c’è, un giocatore che dribbla come Pelé. Dai Zanetti olé, eh oh.” When you thought you had them pinned back in their own half, he almost seemed to say, “Don’t worry, push up because I’ll get us over the halfway line.” You always become very nostalgic when someone retires and you hope that it’s not forever. Javier Zanetti played until he was relatively old, so there was also a lot of gratitude for a player that had given so much to the club. Of course it was sad but the overriding feeling towards him was gratitude.